I began with this opinion in the NYTimes: Purity, Disgust and Donald Trump concluding that Trump’s success embodies irresolvable conflicts in our political system. What are those conflicts, how did they happen and how might we overcome them?
Those questions brought me to YourMorals.org’s moral foundations theory that probes how people put together moral beliefs based on six different foundations – Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Liberty/Oppression, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation. Their research found that conservatives value loyalty and purity as much or more than fairness and caring whereas liberals most often only value fairness and liberty.
This brought me to Jonathan Haidt, his book The Righteous Mind and this article in the Washington Post: The top 10 reasons American politics are broken:
1) The two parties purified themselves ideologically
2) As politicians polarized, so did many Americans
3) The urban-rural divide grew into a gulf, reflecting diverging interests and values
4) Immigration was rising, leading to larger racial and ethnic divisions
5) The net effect of all these trends is that partisans dislike one another more intensely
6) Meanwhile, rule changes and culture changes in Congress made it harder to maintain cross-party friendships
7) The media environment changed, making it easier for partisans to confirm their worst suspicions, and putting greater pressure on politicians to play to the extremes
8) As the costs of campaigns increased, politicians have become increasingly afraid of offending their party’s donors
9) When the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States lost a common enemy that had once unified the country
10) The end of the Cold War coincided with the baton pass from the Greatest Generation to the baby boomers, who may be more prone to hyper-partisanship
And finally I end with Haidt’s advice for both parties to move in a more libertarian direction: Republicans should give up their opposition to gay marriage and agree to end the drug war; Democrats should back off on race-based affirmative action and agree to rein in the regulatory state. Makes great sense to me- if only it will happen!